Nose hair and tears. And Virgil and waterboarding.

ONE OF THE misfortunes for men getting old is that however little hair remains on top, plenty of it seems to spring from the nose and ears. To that rather mundane phenomenon can be added a tendency to tearfulness, if a couple of my friends are anything to go by.

The first of them, speaking to me on the phone last year, asked me if I ever found myself quietly crying on my own. He went on to say this had started happening to him – he would be sitting on his own (usually in the pub) and have a “quiet cry to himself”. He admitted there was not usually a specific subject prompting his tears. It was just something that welled up from inside. I could be cruel and just say that’s what comes of being a poet with an extremely irregular income and no pension plans in place, but I know it’s deeper than that.

Continue reading at The Fortnightly Review.

There’s no waterboarding or nose hair in my book.

Staying home to watch the riots.

THE LAST TIME I attended a march that descended into anything approaching a riot was back in the 1970s in Leeds. It was a protest against the National Front holding an election meeting in a local school. There were a lot of us and not many fascists — then, as now, there weren’t enough Nazis to go around. As Walter Scott wrote in one of his now unread poems, “All the jolly chase was here” for the rest of us — Marxists, Maoists, various workers’ party activists, long-haired students, long-haired ex-students, social workers, council workers, union members, Labour party types in jackets with elbow patches, sundry feminists and possibly a few Gay Lib people, this being before the invention of gender grievance as a full-scale industry.

Read more at The Fortnightly Review.

If you like riotous stuff there’s plenty in my book

 

The little platoons of society.

To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.

Edmund Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution.

Joe Gould – people would spray the room with DDT after he left…

Joegould

He was getting worse. He was sad; he was scary. Cowley fired him. He smelled; he was covered with sores and infected with bedbugs. He was terribly, terribly ill. E. E. Cummings made him sit on the windowsill so that he wouldn’t leave lice on the furniture. People would spray the room with a DDT gun as soon as he left. When the artist Erika Feist saw Gould coming up the stairs, she would call out to her husband, “Quick, Henry, the Flit!”

Source: Joe Gould’s Real Secret – The New Yorker.

Updike’s dumpster archives.

UpdikeDumpsterArchives
Moran has kept thousands of pieces of Updike’s garbage—a trove that he says includes photographs, discarded drafts of stories, canceled checks, White House invitations, Christmas cards, love letters, floppy disks, a Mickey Mouse flip book, and a pair of brown tasseled loafers. It is a collection he calls “the other John Updike archive,” an alternative to the official collection of Updike’s papers maintained by Harvard’s Houghton Library. The phrase doubles as the name of the disjointed blog he writes, and it raises fundamental questions about celebrity, privacy, and who ultimately determines the value and scope of an artist’s legacy.

Source: The Atlantic.

The American sensitivity lobby gets trigger happy.

trojanwar

The Sensitivity Lobby in some American universities have been twisting their collectivist knickers recently over something they call “triggers”. These are nasty things that crop up in literature, such as descriptions or discussions of violence, sexual assault, racism, sexism, any ism or phobia you can come up with, that could trigger an adverse reaction in students who may have suffered any of these isms…

The Fortnightly Review.

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